ATHENS, Ala. - The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is announcing a reward for a total of $5,000 after over 60 weapons were taken from an Athens pawn and gun shop last week.
Athens Police have arrested a suspect in the case, 21-year-old Brian James Parker of Athens. Chief Floyd Johnson said they also recovered three of the firearms. But there is still more information they need to find the rest, and anyone else responsible.
ATF is offering the reward in the amount of up to $2,500, which will be matched by the National Shooting Sports Foundation for a total reward of up to $5,000.
Anyone with information about this crime at Bradford's Pawn & Gun should contact the ATF at (800) ATF-GUNS (1-800-283-4867) or the Athens Police Department (256) 233-8700. Information can also be sent to ATF via the mobile app www.reportit.com by using the Nashville field division as the location.
"Many times, the public has the information but they may feel reluctant to come forward," said Michael Knight, ATF Special Agent and Public Information Officer. "That's why we provide this avenue of the ATF Report It app, if they want to provide this information anonymously. They can get the information to authorities, but they don't have to give their name."
"Our number one goal is to get these weapons off the street," said Floyd Johnson, Athens Police Chief, "to make it safe for citizens of our community."
The search is still on for most of the missing weapons, which ATF agents say could be trafficked across the country and used in other crimes.
"Any information, no matter how much you feel this information may be worth, it's worth a lot from the investigative side," said Knight.
Knight wants you to be engaged in this case. He said that's because safety is a two-way street.
"When we fight the violent crime issue all across the country, it's not only law enforcement but it's taking ownership from the public side," he explained.
WHNT News 19 received this statement via email from Bradford's Pawn & Gun:
"We are working diligently with the local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to recover all the firearms stolen in the March 20, 2017, burglary of our store. Our main focus is to get these guns off the street and out of the hands of criminals at all cost. The person(s) responsible for this crime has compromised the safety of this community and state by unlawfully placing dozens of firearms on the street, potentially in the hands of other criminals like themselves.
Our community is a much safer place when criminals do not have guns or access to guns. We ask that the community assist law enforcement recover these firearms by being on the look-out for suspicious behavior, and going above and beyond to verify the status of firearms before they make private individual-to-individual purchases.
We are confident that the person(s) responsible for this burglary and theft will be held accountable and such criminal behavior will be appropriately punished and deterred."
Law enforcement will continue to work this case until all weapons are recovered. With your help, they believe they can get the job done.
"I can't emphasize enough the partnership between us [ATF and Athens Police]," said Chief Johnson. "They're still in constant contact and we can't ask for better cooperation."